Freelancers – Osborne – did he help or hinder freelancers?

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The range of measures announced by George Osborne on 20th October was sweeping but largely expected.

So, as the dust begins to settle, has Mr Osborne helped freelancers or has he hindered them?

£1bn to catch £7bn

The government is intensifying its targeting of tax fraud. This inevitably means innocent parties will be caught up in the measures and whilst genuine freelancers may come away with a clean bill of health, there remains the risk of loss of time and worry.

Therefore, freelancers and contractors should prepare themselves by ensuring that they have good contracts in place and their accounts are in good order.

Equally, businesses hiring freelancers would be wise to ensure that legal contracts are in order and contain the necessary statements – which are that the freelancer is responsible for a project and not required to turn up in an office at set times – or anything that gives the impression of employment.

500k Public Sector jobs to go

Freelancers have known since the beginning of the election that most public sector projects have been cancelled or put on hold. However, the huge number of public sector jobs that will be cut will have a number of consequences.

Firstly, a large number of people – recently redundant – will set up as freelancers and some will succeed and others will not. Therefore, to cope with the increased choice that hiring companies will have, freelancers need to invest more in ensuring that they are seen as a clear and distinct benefit and not a part of a vast crowd.

Spending money on your marketing messages and communicating those through design and good copy will be a valuable investment.

Freelancers will also need to brush off their networking skills and get out there’. Sitting waiting for the phone to ring is going to be a high risk strategy. But we knew that already, right?

Lastly, this might be the time for freelancers to reverse the recruitment function.

No longer will experienced freelancers be willing to sit at home waiting for the agency to call. With today’s freelance market, freelancers are free to hire telemarketing or freelance recruitment consultants to call CEOs and Directors and set up one to one appointments.

The second consequence of the massive reduction in public sector man power is that only core activities will be resourced with full time personnel.

Inevitably future large public sector projects will become freelance / contractor lead projects which will create new opportunities for freelancers – but that won’t happen for the first 6 to 12 months.

Cuts to business link and regional development

The reduction in government money to business link and the regional development agencies mean that freelancers are increasingly in the ‘sink or swim’ category. No longer will endless free events (paid for by the tax payer) be flooding our diaries – we will have to pay for what we want.

The consequence is that the volume of events should reduce whilst the quality increases – as we will judge our attendance at events more critically then ever before.

There isn’t any reason why high quality private sector organisations can’t provide these services – however, we are all going to have to get used to paying more for what we use and this may mean we need to look at how we can raise our prices.

Raise prices?

It may seem odd to suggest raising prices – but there is more than one way to do this. Firstly, most freelancers work per hour – so more efficient / faster work can be charged at higher rates – if the overall project price does not increase.

Hence, one way to charge higher hourly rates is to deliver more in the same hour.

Equally, consider adding a performance element to your prices. Can you charge on the basis of success? If so, you will win more work faster – and your hourly rate won’t be questioned. This tactic isn’t right for everyone, but it is one worth considering.

Getting paid

Lastly, a number of private sector businesses which are dependent on public sector work may go bust. So, get paid on time – or even offer a discount based on prepayment or fast payment (within a week).

Conclusion

More than ever before, the success of our freelance business is now up to us. The opportunities haven’t gone away – freelancers can offer greater flexibility with better results and moderately better costs. These are the kinds of benefits that businesses want. We just have to get out there and make sure that our individual messages are heard.

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Written by Editor on October 21, 2010 and filed in Featured, Money, News, Opinion , , ,


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